Arsenal fan and HITC writer Steven Altman is not so impressed with the club at present. He wonders if any of the playing staff will feel the same way.
Nothing much has changed at Arsenal this transfer window, although we still have a month until it closes: disappointing, but hardly surprising.
Despite all the bluster of the manager pursuing big names such as Rooney, Higuain and Suarez, it is clear that there will once again be no big name signings this coming season, and that, as he made abundantly clear this week, the present squad (with the addition of two relatively minor unknown signings) will be put to the tough task of attempting to bring glory to the Gunners next season.
Besides the obvious lack of new talent up front and in defence, Wenger's strategy of not actually buying big players even when he says he is going to do so has, in my view, a hugely negative psychological effect on the team as a whole, as well as on its millions of fans.
Let's analyse what some of the players have said:
Mikel Arteta is reported to have said the following:
“I am excited. They made it public that they are going to go big and the sort of players they have been linked with makes me happy. It creates a good atmosphere and we need to do something because the other teams are doing it, and I think we will.”
Jack Wilshere, in an interview just after Arteta's remarks, backed Arteta's point of view up, and no doubt most, if not all, of the rest of the team feel the same way.
Ivan Gazidis said the following, preceding Arteta's comments:
"Arsene is not scared to spend money but he has to believe they are top-class players who will add to the squad."
The trouble with Gazidis' statement is that it affirms that although Arsenal has the money to spend, it's up to the manager alone to make the call on who to buy. Not one word on the authority of the board to override or even persuade Wenger to make a signing.
To add insult to injury, Wenger's usual u-turn remarks were made this week
When he said that although he is still trying to strengthen his squad this summer, his current group of players can mount a title challenge without reinforcements. (my emphasis). A transparent statement if ever I saw one.
Wenger is reported to have said the following:
"We are still working on improving our squad. But we have a base of young players, players who started in the Premier League with us, like Wojciech Szczesny, Carl Jenkinson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
"That is why what we do is unique. Look at our competitors, who in the last 10 years has started for them in the Premier League and is still there now?
"I believe my squad has a special bond and that they are on their way upwards, they are not over the hill, they will get better. I am confident we will be stronger next season.”
This is the justification for not signing big names, or anybody over the age of 20 for that matter. Psychologically, Wenger is boosting his current crop of players by being part of something 'unique'.
I suggest, however, that this will be of little or no comfort to them. And it flies in the face of the sentiments expressed by players such as Arteta and Wilshere. To be ignored is never nice for anyone, but to be ignored in such a public way is even worse.
The players will be feeling dejected and let down - their statements clearly express what they want to be happening, and the lack of big signings ignores them, and must be hugely demoralizing to all of them.
The obscure signings made by Wenger this transfer window is his trade mark, but instead of making these signings as his main objectives upfront, he makes them 'by the way'. However, in my view, he is doing exactly what he set out to do: sign young relatively unknown players on the cheap.
It makes one wonder whether there was ever a true intention to sign big names in the first place, and that probably all the bluster about paying huge money for players such as Suarez, Rooney and Higuain was just that - bluster.
The other big teams are arguably better positioned to win silverware next season, or if they stand still, it's still from a better starting position than Arsenal. Until Arsenal can consistently beat those teams (which they have not managed to do recently) there will be no silverware, and they will once again be challenging for fourth position.
Arsenal fans can't be happy at the moment and it is unlikely that anything is going to change in the foreseeable future at the Emirates. You just wonder how the players will be feeling about it too.
image: © wonker